Small watercolor painting

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

-Robert Frost


Merry Snow Everyone!

Disneyland at Christmas time will get anyone in the spirit. The design of the Small World building is really great. I think it looks best at Christmas time when it's all lit up with colorful lights:

(I think the design would look cleaner without the santa hat. can't have everything i guess.)

Those Santa Ana winds blowing through Orange County at night are FREEZING!

Here is a shot from inside Small World, minus the audio :)

Peace on Earth, everyone. Lets hope that happens very soon.



"For Clytie", 14"x18", oil

Another broken arm painting. I like some of the looseness of the brushstrokes and yet it still feels too tightly rendered. I plan to work on this issue in full force over the coming year.

I was inspired to paint sunflowers after seeing them displayed at a store selling Italian antiques. Sunflowers have long been a popular subject for painters. It's understandable. The way their contrasting yellow petals look against a dark brown center is very striking. My interest in them lies not only in their attractive qualities, but also in their historical significance.

The Sunflower has been depicted throughout history in Europe and South America for thousands of years. The symbol the Incas used for their god was a sunflower. The Romans carved sunflowers on buildings and the Greeks told the story of Clytie, a woman who turned into a sunflower after falling in love with Apollo. In 17th Century Europe, the Sunflower represented the vanity of the royal court and by the 19th Century, Van Gogh painted sunflowers to reflect the warmth he felt in the south of France. Although the symbolic meaning of the sunflower has evolved throughout history, the power of it's image endures. I find them quite inspiring.



The cast has come off! Now it's physical therapy twice a week. Because of the injury, I don't have full range of motion in my wrist. That is not necessarily a bad thing. While I had my cast on, I discovered that full range of motion is not completely necessary for painting. In fact, the less motion I had, the more interesting my paintings became. I did this quick two hour study of some pomegranates while in the cast. It's not the best and yet I like the spontaneous feel of the brushstrokes.

Although I did several quick paintings both with my cast and with my left hand, the majority of my free time was spent planning out my studio, which is in need of a major overhaul. Hopefully by the end of this year the overhaul will be complete so I can start 2007 with a fresh space that functions in the way that I need it to. I can't wait!

I finished a new painting sans-cast this week. I will post it soon, probably this week - IF work allows...

Thanks for all the nice comments from friends and family about my mishap!



"Barbara", charcoal on paper

When I look at this drawing I did last week, I feel a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment. Satisfaction because my drawing skills have come a long way, and disappointment because I see subtle drawing mistakes. I also see the charcoal isn't getting the soft effect on the paper that I'd like it to, and I didn't quite capture the mood on the model's face that day. This disappointment motivates me to keep trying because I know with continual practice, I will someday achieve the look I am striving for in my work as long as I keep working towards that goal.

These days I am starting to rethink my goals. While I still believe personal discipline is healthy, I also believe it is ok to accept what I can do right now. This drawing doesn't look quite the way I want it to and is not perfect. It is the result of everything I have learned and experienced up until the moment I drew it. This drawing is a representation of who I am right now...which is the whole point of expressing in the first place.

Light and Shadow

"Dahlias Forever", oil, 9"x12"

I saw some orange dahlias a few weeks ago and bought them so I could set up a still life for painting. I was surprised they lasted long enough to do two paintings - two weeks. When I looked up the historical meaning behind dahlias, I found that in the victorian era dahlias represented enduring love because they last so long.

I like the shadow and light effect I get from placing flowers on this windowsill. When I set up still life objects for painting, I'm always looking for strong lighting. For me, strong lighting illustrates the idea of sun and moon, positive and negative, Yin and Yang. This painting has all the essential elements I believe in, plus one: Earth, Sun, Moon, and enduring love.

"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars." -- Og Mandino



In the Victorian era, flowers were a coded language of emotions, desires, and unspoken messages. Because of this, flowers had the ability to speak louder than words in a time when speaking the truth of one's emotions was socially unacceptable. Today the language of flowers is still relevant. They symbolize love, regret, passion, loss, remembrance, and have the ability to subtly convey a message.

Like so many artists, I am compelled to paint flowers. For me the subject is not merely decoration. When setting up a still life, I use things like vases, cloth, and other objects, combined with the flowers of my choosing, to help express the thoughts and feelings within. While I am painting, it is easier for me to linger in those feelings. Like the people we are compelled to interact with in our lives, flowers can be powerful symbols from deep within. I will be lingering in this place for a long time.

"Be observant if thou wouldst have a pure heart, for something is born to thee in consequence of every action." - Rumi


Gil Elvgen Charcoal at the American Academy of Art

Here is the drawing by 1950's pin up artist Gil Elvgren I was referring to in the previous post. Unfortunately these are the only photographs I have. The drawing was under glass, so there is a glare. I was also new to photography when I took these 15 years ago. :)

If anyone has a better photo of this drawing, please send it and I'll post it!

This drawing is best seen in person. When I first saw this hanging on the walls at the American Academy of Art, i had an overwhelming desire to learn to draw this way so I could also create something so incredibly beautiful. I'm still working on trying to achieve this level of beauty in my life drawings.


"Walter", charcoal

Painting is always a balance between what you see and what you express. This is at the very essence of all kinds of art, be it painting, sculpting, character design, animating, whatever.

Artists have a whole world to choose from. Sometimes there is so much information in what you are observing that it's hard to pick and choose what to put into your work. But this is what makes all art interesting...how we as individuals choose to interpret what we see. A lot of artists look to other artists for ideas, which is fine, but only as a jumping off point for inspiration. Over a lifetime, it's important to find your own personal vision. This is really hard to do, especially when you're young and heavily influenced by the artists that taught you. For me, it's only now (at 37) that I am finding my way into my own individuality. But that's part of what makes it challenging. Personal growth is a path that leads us to good things and keeps life interesting, regardless if you are an artist or not.


Here are a few drawings from my Saturday morning workshop up in Marin.

"Moongirl", charcoal

"Moongirl's profile", charcoal

"Otieno", charcoal


Painting in Zion

Here are three of the one hour studies i did on the trails. My dad carried my 30 pound backpack that had my paint box and supplies. He was my sherpa basically. What a great thing to have a dad like that, huh? Anyway, we'd stop after a few hours of hiking, I'd set up my stuff, paint for an hour, clean up, and then we'd hike back. At night we'd sit around the campfire at my dad's campsite and chat about the day. The desert is a very healing place. It's amazing. I can honestly say I feel like a chapter in my life has been closed and I'm about to write a new one. Hopefully the new chapter will involve me being who I am and not just dreaming of who I could be.


Paintings Framed and Sent!

I got the frames last week. I framed the two paintings for the Salon International show at the Greenhouse Gallery in Texas. I crated them up and sent them today. It might seem silly to be so excited about framing and sending off these paintings, but it makes me happy. It feels good to be making a little progress. :)


A few things from my archives

"Judi and Chloe", charcoal. 

The technique here is charcaol on watercolor board. I picked it up from Richard Schmid's amazing figure painting book (the one he did in the 70's).Posted by Picasa

This is a watercolor I did several years ago when I used to paint at the Palette and Chisel in Chicago. This painting was stolen! Oh well...I think its way too fussy anyway.  Posted by Picasa

"Theresa", oil

My former boss, Monica Kendall at Calabash in Chicago bought this at a two person show I had at the Palette and Chisel in the mid 90's (can't remember the date). Posted by Picasa


"Azevedo Ranch Chickens, Rio Vista",

these chickens are on Azevedo Ranch, my stepmother's family farm. I love the way the light was coming in through the chicken wire. Not sure I captured what I was seeing, as the darks are too flat. When you paint dark values too thick they don't reflect light back and can make the painting look flat and dull. I think that happened here.  Posted by Picasa

"Pumpkins", just a quick little study.  Posted by Picasa

"Peonies 2", I couldn't resist painting a close up view of these interesting flowers. Posted by Picasa

"Crabapples and Peonies" Posted by Picasa

"Peonies" Posted by Picasa

"Quinces and limes", a recent still life done in my studio. I love still life painting...i hope to do much more. Posted by Picasa

"Poppies", hard to paint poppies...these things move like crazy within just a few hours.  Posted by Picasa